Have you ever wondered where veterans are laid to rest after their service to our country? The answer lies in VA cemeteries, also known as Veterans Affairs cemeteries. These special places, overseen by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provide a final resting place for eligible veterans and their families.

While there are 136 VA cemeteries nationwide, not all states have one. State veteran cemeteries operate independently and have separate rules regarding eligibility and costs.

Who is Eligible for Burial in a VA Cemetery?

The good news is that many veterans and their loved ones qualify for burial in a VA cemetery. Here are some who are generally eligible:

  • Eligibility generally extends to veterans, members of the armed forces, Reserve Components, ROTC members, and certain other groups like World War II Merchant Mariners and the Philippine Armed Forces. Spouses, dependents, and parents may also be eligible under specific conditions.
  • Veterans and active members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard)
  • Members of certain reserve components and training programs
  • Commissioned officers of specific government agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Public Health Service

Purpose & Characteristics of a VA Cemetery

Burial plots in VA cemeteries are assigned at the time of need and cannot be chosen in advance. The assignment is made without regard to the individual’s branch of service, rank, or religion. Upright granite headstones are standard, with some cemeteries allowing flat bronze memorials. Cremated remains may also be buried or entombed.

Unlike traditional cemeteries, VA cemeteries have some unique characteristics:

  • Plot assignments: Unlike choosing a plot in advance, plots at VA cemeteries are assigned at the time of need based on availability, not personal preference.
  • Memorialization: The standard headstones are upright granite, but some cemeteries offer flat, bronze memorials. Decorations and personalization options are strictly regulated.
  • Funeral and burial services: VA cemeteries typically don’t have chapels or viewing facilities, and graveside services aren’t allowed. However, committal services can be held in designated shelters.

VA Cemetery and Burial Costs

One of the significant benefits of a VA cemetery burial is the cost. Here’s what’s typically covered:

  • Burial plot
  • Cemetery labor charges
  • Perpetual care and maintenance
  • Government-issued headstone or memorial
  • U.S. burial flag
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate

All provided at no cost to the next-of-kin. Additional burial benefits may offset funeral home charges.

Pre-Need Planning

The VA encourages pre-need planning to verify burial eligibility in advance. Families can contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office for more information. Once eligibility is determined, pre-need plans must be made with a funeral service provider. You can find more information and contact details on the official VA website https://www.va.gov/

You can find a complete list and contact information for each cemetery on the VA website (https://www.cem.va.gov/find-cemetery/all-national.asp).

VA cemeteries provide a dignified final resting place for veterans and their families. Understanding the eligibility requirements and benefits of VA cemeteries can help veterans and their families make informed decisions about their final arrangements.


1. What are the specific eligibility requirements for a VA cemetery burial?

While the groups mentioned above are generally eligible, specific details and exceptions may apply. It’s best to contact the VA directly for a complete and personalized assessment.

2. Can I choose my preferred plot or headstone design at a VA cemetery?

No, plot assignment and headstone options are standardized at VA cemeteries to ensure uniformity and respect for all veterans.

3. Can I hold a traditional funeral service at a VA cemetery?

Traditional graveside services aren’t allowed. However, families can hold committal services in designated shelters.

4. What happens if I choose not to bury my loved one in a VA cemetery?

You are not obligated to use a VA cemetery. Many families choose traditional cemeteries or other options based on personal preferences.

5. How can I learn more about VA burial benefits beyond cemetery services?

The VA website (https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/) offers comprehensive information on various burial benefits available to veterans and their families.

6. Can I pre-plan my burial at a VA cemetery?

Yes, the VA encourages pre-planning to avoid delays and ease the burden on families during a difficult time. You can find the pre-planning form on the VA website (https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/pre-need-eligibility/).

7. How can I find out the current status of pre-need eligibility applications?

Contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 for the latest information.